Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Beyond The Great Green Room...

Have you ventured past the "great green room" of Goodnight Moon and into any of Margaret Wise Brown's other stories?  When my children were young, Goodnight Moon (1949) and The Runaway Bunny (1942) were among their first favorites. If you can't get enough of her charming, rhythmic, rhyming writing, this post is for you!

Brown penned over 100 published works during her life. My personal favorite growing up was Home For A Bunny (1956), illustrated by Garth Williams. 

After Margaret Wise Brown’s untimely death at age 42 in 1952, dozens of her unpublished writings were found almost forty years later in 1990. The papers, preserved in a cedar-lined trunk and stored in the attic of a Vermont barn belonging to Brown’s sister, had sat largely untouched since the early 1950s.  Those stories are now being published as brand-new books (read more here).

Sometime after my first grandson was born, we discovered The Fathers Are Coming Home (2010, illustrated by Stephen Savage and previously blogged about here).

My daughter discovered Two Little Trains (2003, re-illustrated, but first published in 1949) at their local library for grandson number two.

A must-read for any train obsessed child, Two Little Trains follows the parallel journeys of a real train and a toy train. The toy train mirrors the real train's journey to the West, but in a house with objects like a rug track, a book tunnel, and a bathtub river.  

The illustrations by Leo and Diane Dillon are sleek, with muted colors.  They fit Brown's imaginative story perfectly.  Any child's imagination would be stirred by the fun pictorial match-up details of both trains' journeys!

Recently, since the birth of our third grandchild, I've discovered three more books by this prolific children's book author!  The first two are stand alone stories that also happen to be included in my newest find and third recommendation, Mouse of My Heart, a collection from the archives of Margaret Wise Brown.

Book #1 - All the Little Fathers (2015), has colorful, fun illustrations by Marilyn Faucher...
Animal fathers are caring for and playing with their animal children.  The lions are roaring, the dogs are getting bones,  the monkeys are hanging out, the cats are purring... and of course in the end, the fathers are putting their children to bed.  This book would be a perfect Father's Day gift!

Book #2 - The Diggers, first published in 1960 (with illustrations by Clement Hurd), is a timeless narrative about the universal experience of digging, from a worm winding its way through the earth to the swinging of the great jaws of the steam shovel.

I haven't seen the original book, or the one illustrated by Daniel Kirk, featuring a child's foot on a shovel (published in 1995), but I was immediately drawn to the bright, quirky, fun pictures by French illustrator, Antoine Corbineau in the newest edition, published in 2013!  Future diggers and engineers will love it!

Finally, Book #3 - Mouse of My Heart, A Treasury of Sense and Nonsense, (2001) with sweet illustrations by Loretta Krupinski, has won my heart!

It's a collection of 56 poems and stories by Margaret Wise Brown, many previously unpublished.  This anthology is grouped according to themes such as Adventure, Love and Friendship, Bedtime, Happiness, Big and Little, and Nature. 

I found my copy used online - and it's a treasure! The introduction is by Brown's noted biographer, Leonard S. Marcus. The whimsical illustrations by Loretta Krupinski are gorgeous, done in jewel-tone colors.

All of Margaret Wise Brown's stories and poems are timeless, as she invites us in...

Do you have a favorite?


Mouse mouse
Why do you start
Timid and shy
As a human heart?

Mouse mouse
Where do you glide
Like a soft gray shadow 
Trying to hide?

Mouse mouse
Where is your den
Far from the eyes 
Of cats and men?

Monday, April 9, 2018


Christ is Risen! I hope you had a glorious Pascha (or Easter, last week, if you follow the Western calendar). We celebrate according to the Julian Calendar, and our service started late Saturday night and went into the wee hours of the morning on Sunday.

Bright Monday is one of my favorite mornings!  I'm a bit more bright eyed than on Sunday morning, and I love my favorite pairings: coffee and cream, bacon and eggs, strawberries and croissants (with Pascha Cheese that I make for our parish celebration after the Pascha liturgy - recipe here).

Breakfast gets prepared as we listen once again to Rimsky-Korsakov's Russian Easter Festival Overture.

I love how strains of the Paschal Anthem, "Let God Arise" and "Christ is Risen From the Dead" are woven in and out of the symphonic music.

The weather is fine today, and the butterflies are out!  And I need to get back to blogging.  Watch for my post on Margaret Wise Brown, coming soon.